Max Kurz’s 47-year coaching career was dotted by championships. As a boys cross country and track coach and a girls cross country coach at Millard, Millard South and Millard West, his teams won three state championships, finished second nine times and in the top four 21 times. His boys track team claimed one state title and seven top-four finishes. He was named the Metro Conference track and cross country Coach of the Year 14 times before his retirement in 2017.
Scottsbluff (Class of 1954)
The Nebraska High School Athlete of the Year in 1954, Knaub was a four-year letterman in track and a two-year letterman in football and basketball, earning all-conference and all-state honors. On the track, he established three state records and won all-class gold medals in the pole vault his sophomore and junior seasons and in the long jump his junior year. Knaub won the state pentathlon as a senior, but was injured at the state track meet. He helped UCLA win the NCAA championship in 1956 and won two conference long jump championships. He competed in the 1956 Olympic Trials in the long jump.
Athlete. Ray Knaub’s athleticism helped make Scottsbluff High School a threat in statewide competition and his track exploits put his name on the all-time charts as he dominated the high school Big Ten Conference. He won state track meet gold medals in the 100- and 220-yard dashes and ran on gold medal-winning 880-yard relays teams. He claimed a share of the state record in the 100 (9.8 second). In college, he was a member of Baylor University’s Southwest Conference championship track team, winning the 100 in the conference, in the Texas Relays and the Kansas Relays and reached championships status in the conference indoor 60-yard hurdles. Lives in Lakewood, CO.
Grand Island Central Catholic
Jenny Kropp-Goess spent her high school career rewriting the record book at Grand Island Central Catholic. A four-year letter winner in basketball and volleyball and an all-state selection in both. it was soon clear that she had exceptional volleyball skills. Leading the Crusaders to the state finals three times and the state Championship in 1994 , she set school records with 25 kills in a game, 359 kills in a season, 1010 kills in a career and 102 blocks in a season. In basketball, she set the school record for rebounds with 716 and for blocks in a game (17), season (179) and areer (412). She went on to earn All-American honors playing volleyball at Nebraska, helping the Huskers win four big 12 conference titles and reach the NCAA championship match three times. Coach John Cook said she was the heart of the Huskers 2000 national championship team. After college, she played professional indoor volleyball in Puerto Rico before embarking on a successful career in professional beach volleyball.
Athlete. The halls of Schuyler High School echoed for quite some time at the exploits of Sue Kobza, one of the best girl athletes at a time when women’s high school sports in Nebraska was undergoing a modern resurgence. A three-sport athlete at Schuyler Central, she lettered three years in both volleyball and basketball, but she claimed track as her true athletic love and followed in a family tradition by throwing the discus. Sue started early by setting discus records in youth competition while in junior high and won second place in the state high school meet her freshman year, her lowest state meet finish. She won the Class B discus throw her sophomore, junior and senior years at the state track meet, setting records each time. She carried her love for track into the Junior Olympics and was a national champion in her final year in 1977. A good student at the University of Nebraska, she lettered one year in basketball and three years in track & field.
Coach, Lincoln Pius X. Kelley coached boys and girls state championships at Lincoln Pius X. He coached six-man football and basketball at Ohiowa from 1959 to 1961 before becoming the boys basketball coach at Norfolk Catholic. He moved on to Lincoln Pius X where he coached boys basketball from 1968 to 1980, advancing to the state tournament five times and winning the state championship in 1974. In 1985, he became the girls coach, leading the Thunderbolts to five state tournament appearances in seven years and winning the state title in 1991 and 1992. His combined boys and girls coaching record is 371-188.
Coach. His tenure as head football coach of the Holdrege Dusters covered a span of 25 years, achieving a 120 wins and being awarded three Omaha World-Herald mythical state championships. Those came in 1950, 1953 and 1959 with two undefeated seasons in 1953 and 1958. During the 1950s, the Dusters missed being in the top 10 ratings just twice. Jess was best known for his Single-Wing offense, which later evolved into the wing-T. He also served as track coach for 38 years and was cross country coach after retiring from his football job. Jess was named the Coach of the Year by the Omaha World-Herald for the 1959-60 school year when his football and track team both won state championships. He was named assistant coach for the first Nebraska Shrine game in 1959 and was the head coach of the all-star game the next year, tutoring the South to 46-7 victory.
Other honors include recognition by Kearney State College for his outstanding contribution to high school athletics and having the Holdrege football field and stadium renamed Keifer Field-Memorial Stadium.
In an unequalled coaching career, Joanne Kappas watched her volleyball teams collect 11 state championship trophies, including six straight from 1992-1997. She started at Bellevue East, coaching for five years before moving on to a 19-year career at Bellevue West. She finished at Omaha Bryan, completing a unique triple crown of leading three different schools to the Class A state tournament. While achieving 24 state tournament appearances in her 28-year career, she compiled a 774-210 record.
Coach. After serving three years in the United States Marine Corps, Gene attended Midland College receiving his B.S. in 1946. His first teaching and coaching job was at his hometown of Arlington, heading up all sports. He made the move to Elkhorn in 1949 where he hired on as assistant coach in all sports and taught math. The next year he was moved up to head basketball and track coach. He got the head football job in 1951. To all this, he added the responsibilities of athletic director until 1955 when he left teaching for private business. The lure of the classroom brought him back to education in 1960 when he returned to Elkhorn as a coach of all sports, athletic director, and math teacher. Over the next 15 years he gradually eased out of coaching one sport at a time but remained as AD until 1980. His track teams garnered several district championships with two winning the state runner-up trophy. He was selected as North All-Star basketball coach in 1970.
Class of 1994
Jami Kubik did it all for the Cambridge Trojans, who dominated their class in her time. With Kubik one of the centers of attention, Cambridge won back-to-back state volleyball and back-to-back state basketball championships. She earned all-state honors in volleyball as a junior and a senior, and was the honorary Class C1 all-state captain in 1993, and she was four-time state track qualifier in three events, setting school records in the 100-meter high hurdles, the 300-meter low hurdles, the long jump and the 1,600-meter relay. But she excelled in basketball above all other sports, starting Cambridge on its 81-game winning streak. Nebraska’s Miss Basketball in 1994, she was a two-time all-class all-state pick, scoring 564 points her senior season. At the University of Nebraska, she lettered for four years, playing on two NCAA Tournament teams and earning Academic All-Big Eight honors.